The genesis for this post was a conversation I had during SPC following my presentation on Social Networking with MOSS. SharePoint offers many features that (when properly configured) enable and facilitate social networking "inside the firewall". The power and flexibility of SharePoint lends itself to providing a great platform for corporate social networking. The key is to have a plan and implement the user profiles correctly. If you do not pay attention to the user profile accuracy, all your efforts to implement the connections that come from the recommendations engine will be in vain. Your users will become annoyed at the inaccuracy and turn it all off.
Having said all that, here are my (and several MVPs to whom I owe beers) top reasons for implementing My Sites in no particular order. Remember that you can enable My Sites in phases, beginning with the profile page and moving to full personal sites with a quota for storage.
- Findability – Enabling your users to describe themselves to the organization increases there personal findability. People search uses the many user profile attributes to catalogue users and present them in the search results. (If only we could post the information back to AD!)
- Audiences – You can use the properties of the user profile to target content and links to users. This personalization capability is underused and very powerful.
- Social Interaction – My Sites are the center of Colleague tracking. Users describe who they interact with and on what level. As users navigate the personal pages and people search these connections are surfaced as Me, My Colleagues, and My Colleagues Colleagues. Visibility of the user profile properties are controlled by the user.
- My Links – My Links offers central storage and collection of links that follow the user to all SharePoint sites they visit.
- Personalization Site "Host" – Personalization sites are another underused and misunderstood site template. The personalization site enables "a personal department site", so for example, HR can create a personal site for employees with targeted links and audience related information. The navigation experience presents itself on the users My Site. Through the SSP you can permanently host the link on the My Site navigation.
- Blog Host – Organizations can encourage knowledge sharing in many ways, I have found blogging to be a terrific way to capture and reuse personal knowledge. Hosting the blog from the personal site is an easy way to manage blog findability.
- Personal Storage – This one is where I get the most push back from entrenched IT departments that are skeptical of SharePoint. My Sites can replace file shares and offer many features, like versions, check in/out, etc., that make storage on personal sites superior to file shares. Recovery of these sites may not be as easy as a file share, but with the addition of the Recycle Bin, you won’t have to restore them as often.
I am certain that I have missed a few, so please comment and set me straight.